Public Comment

Commentary: A Greener, Friendlier, Economical Alternative to Bus Rapid Transit

By Merrilie Mitchell
Tuesday April 08, 2008

This is a people-friendly, eco-friendly plan to increase riders and decrease congestion and pollution. It will save millions for transit improvements. 

You can do all the above quite simply by using Rapid Bus BUS with Ecopass instead of BRT for Telegraph Avenue north of Downtown Oakland. Millions saved can restore local buses; enhance transit connections; replace diesel with eco friendly buses; and pilot Eco-pass for all in Planning Area 1 (Northern Alameda County). 

Here are the details: 

1. Rapid Bus with Eco-pass takes the same time to board as BRT but is a much more flexible system for transit demand management. It does not need multi-million dollar platforms built on Berkeley’s narrow streets. 

2. Restore the 1R transfer point at 14th and Broadway so Rapid Bus can go north, on Telegraph Avenue without BRT. Improve timing for connecting buses. Increase Rapid Bus to Berkeley during rush hour, every six instead of 12 minutes. Decrease off-peak Rapid Bus as huge empty buses frequent Berkeley while local buses have been decimated generating intense ill will toward AC Transit and Berkeley officials. 

3. The millions of dollars saved by not building a BRT project north of Downtown Oakland, could be used toward restoring local buses. And “shopper shuttles” for business loops such as Shattuck, Solano, etc, would be grand, like the DASH in Los Angeles! Local buses help us shop locally, and increase sales tax to help AC Transit through Measure B. 

4. Money saved should also be used for eco-friendly buses to reduce toxic fumes and particulates. Eco-friendly buses would increase ridership while decreasing Global Warming. The large Van Hool buses are considered dangerous and wasteful (at 3.5 miles per gal). The small, 30-foot Van Hool busses, however, are quiet, clean, cute, helping to provide a pedestrian friendly environment. Riders do complain about layout and seating in these buses too, but many people much appreciate the advantages of these over the roaring stinkers. 

5. Ecopass for residents is long overdue. AC Transit has Eco-passes for UC students and staff, for city employees and businesses, for developments and projects. We need Eco-pass for the local residents and taxpayers. Eco-passes might be financed many ways including parking meter funds, if the notorious city-parking elimination strategist is stopped from taking ours and giving hundreds to UC Berkeley. Eco-passes “spare the fare” and have great benefits—increasing transit use and safety for bus drivers, sparing the air and decreasing global warming, and giving us some long overdue environmental justice. 


Berkeley resident Merrilie Mitchell does not drive a car.